Based on the interest that brought more than 11,000 fans to Staples Center on Tuesday and forced Wednesday’s Floyd Mayweather Jr.–Conor McGregor tour stop to move to an expanded 16,000-seat venue in Toronto, McGregor stands to collect more than 10 times his typical UFC purse in his Aug. 26 boxing match.
So the question hovers … will the charismatic champion from Ireland ever return to the UFC?
Before McGregor spoke in a side session with reporters Tuesday afternoon, even UFC President Dana White admitted he’s uncertain what will happen from here, recognizing McGregor could earn in excess of $100 million.
“You just don’t know if he’s going in to make this kind of money … he might never fight again,” White said. “That’s part of the deal. This kid has done a lot for this sport, a lot for this company. This is the fight they wanted, so we’re going to give it to him. And if this is the end of his career, then it is what it is.”
McGregor (20-3) became the first UFC fighter to hold two division belts simultaneously in November when he scored a second-round technical knockout of lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez at Madison Square Garden after previously winning the featherweight belt.
After that, McGregor took a break to await the May birth of his son, Jack, then found his verbal back-and-forth with Mayweather had a massive audience, triggering a deal that could threaten Mayweather’s record-selling 4.6 million pay-per-view buys bout against Manny Pacquiao in 2015.
McGregor, 28, owes the UFC four more fights on his contract, and has told White he’ll seek to return to the octagon by the end of 2017.
When reporter Gareth A. Davies of the London Daily Telegraph raised the issue, reminding McGregor he’ll make “extraordinary amounts of money” for boxing Mayweather at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, McGregor bellowed, “Woooo! Say it again! One more time!”
But then he spoke convincingly about his interest in returning to the UFC for what he says is “a true fight” that requires multiple fighting disciplines beyond boxing.
“I love a true fight. Elbows, knees, shinbones, foot,” McGregor said. “You ever bounce a shinbone off [an opponent]? You ever bounce an elbow off a temple? It’s an unusual feeling, a nasty thing, but something I enjoy, something I love to do.
“I look forward to going back to MMA and having a true fight after this, make…